Sprint MiFi 2200 Review | A Buyer’s Perspective

Sprint MiFi
Looking for the Verizon MiFi 2200?

A Buyer’s Perspective (July, 2009)

I’ve been reviewing at www.mobile-broadband-reviews.com for about a year and six months.

During that time I’ve seen quite a number of broadband cards and devices. Everything from the smallest broadband card ever created to snazzy netbooks with embedded 3G chips. I’ve literally answered hundreds of e-mails from you and gotten excellent feedback.

Taking that into consideration it is my ethical and moral responsibility to express to you the following:

The Sprint MiFi 2200 by Novatel wireless is the hottest piece of equipment I’ve seen in mobile broadband period.

If you whip this bad boy out in an airport, coffee shop, library, at work, in a board room meeting, or just around anyone with the pulse, be prepared to experience the wow factor. Feel free to take the time to explain how you became such a cool person with such a device. That being said, I’ll try my best to keep this an unbiased review.

The reason the Sprint MiFi 2200 oozes coolness is because it’s literally a mobile broadband hotspot. It’s like a sleek portable wireless router that you can use anywhere in the country without plugging into a wall.

Sprint MiFi next to Laptop
The Sprint MiFi 2200 will connect any 5 WiFi enabled devices.
It’s perfect if you’ve got a laptop as well as a iPhone/Blackberry plus a friend that needs to get online.

Unlike broadband cards, you don’t have to plug it into your laptop. It simply connects via WiFi. That also means you can connect your laptop, iPhone, iTouch, Blackberry, MP3 player, digital camera or other WiFi enabled device. The possibilities are becoming endless. The folks at CNBC also seem to agree:
The folks at CNBC think the MiFi 2200 is cool too. You’ll hear them say it’s $99 after rebates. Stick around my friend, I’ll show you at the end of this review how to get it for free without even using a rebate.

So What Does It Look Like? (Aesthetics)

With its silver surfer metallic finish, the Sprint MiFi 2200 is just a bit smaller than an iPhone and screams, I’m a cool executive with serious work to get done. At such a small size, it’s more than plausible to be able to carry the Sprint MiFi in your pocket as you cruise down the highway at 80 mph.

Sprint MiFi next to iPhone
The MiFi 2200 is smaller than the iPhone and a bit larger than a business card.

Sprint MiFi
To give you a better visual of exactly how big it is, the MiFi 2200 is about the size of a few credit cards stacked together and weighs just over 2 ounces.

Sprint MiFi (palm)

The Sprint MiFi is very portable. Easily fitting into the palm of your hand, it be kept in a top pocket, laptop bag or purse.

To help give a better perspective, here’s a (really amateur) video on the Sprint MiFi as it’s being unboxed:

How Fast Is It? (Functionality)

Sprint Speed
Sprint mobile broadband speed is similar to DSL and about ten times faster than using dialup.
“With a Sprint Mobile Broadband Card, you get average download speeds of 600-1400 Kbps, peaking at 3.1 Mbps, and 350-500 Kbps average upload speeds, peaking at 1.8 Mbps. Similar to DSL, and about ten times faster than using a dial-up modem”

While this is technically true, alot of you tend to ask how fast a specific card will be. While the individual card does not usually affect the speed (so long as it’s EVDO Revision A).  With Sprint MiFi 2200, your speed will naturally decrease as you have more devices connected that are actively using the connection. To put it in perspective, think of 3 to 5 people using hot water in the house at the same time. It’s just going to run out faster than if one person was using it. The same goes with for the 5 GB cap with the Sprint MiFi.

The speed can also vary depending on location. As I explain in Lesson 8: Who’s The Fastest (Wireless Broadband Exposed), Sprint has the best speeds overall. For now, they have a double whammy on speed and coverage, two of the biggest concerns mobile broadband users have.

A couple real world applications that work well are email, web surfing, sending large attachments, video streaming, music streaming, and online gaming. I’ve personally used my EVDO Rev. A broadband card from Sprint for all of the above. The latency is much better than I would expect for online gaming. From Real-Time Strategies to First Person Shooters, it handles it pretty well.

How’s The Coverage? (Functionality)

Sprint Coverage Area

Sprint has long claimed having the largest mobile broadband network. It’s actually still true. The MiFi 2200 runs on Sprint’s Mobile Broadband network. After some reviewing that I cover in great detail in Lesson 10 of Wireless Broadband Exposed, you’ll see how Sprint has the largest mobile broadband network.

With Mobile Broadband coverage from Sprint, you can harness the power of the nation’s largest mobile broadband network. Reaching over 230 million people (with roaming-included areas), service is available in 218 major metro markets and 1,002 airports coast-to-coast”

While Sprint’s got great coverage, the MiFi’s personal mobile hotspot coverage is about 33 feet. In other words, don’t expect to park your car across the street, walk inside your house, go up stairs and still be connected.

It’s more reasonable to believe that it will work across the length of the large living room. Remember, it’s a personal hotspot not a public one.

What’s Nifty About It?
(aka “The Cool Factor”)

Sprint MiFi (Side)For people that rely on mobile broadband as their only connection, this is a gift from the heavens.

Did I mention that it’s a mobile hotspot that you don’t have to plug into?

See, the coolness of the MiFi 2200 is what you can do with it that was not possible before. It would’ve cost you $200 or more for a 3G router that does the same thing as the Sprint MiFi.

Now, you can connect not just your laptop but your phone, digital camera, and any other WiFi device you have without additional equipment.

For people that rely on mobile broadband as their only connection, this is a gift from the heavens. The folks who live in fringe areas and can’t get cable internet or DSL will rejoice at not having to drop cash for extra equipment.

If you’ve heard of the MiFi, then you’re probably aware Verizon also has one. Not quite as widely publicized is a GSM version on the way that may land on AT&T and/or T-Mobile’s network(s). While the Verizon MiFi 2200 is the older brother of the two MiFis, the Sprint version comes packed with a couple features that the Verizon version doesn’t have.

The Sprint MiFi has GPS functionality enabled by default. In other words, you can use Sprint’s location-based services that allow you to search for nearby restaurants, and other stuff that you would find via Google maps or MapQuest. If you really want to pimp it out, you can use Google Earth alongside the GPS functionality to track in real-time your position as you cruise along highways.

Another nifty thing about the Sprint MiFi is that it activates automatically without any need for additional software. You turn it on and you go.

Managing the MiFi is similar to working with a Linksys wireless router. It’s done via a web interface.

Adding to the cool factor not having to install any software upon turning on the MiFi. It automatically activates itself and allows you to get up and running in practically no time.

While I would normally give you some screenshots, all you do is the following:

  1. Charge the MiFi
  2. Turn the MiFi on
  3. Look for the Sprint MiFi 2200 wireless network
  4. Connect

That’s it.

Most people will find that it’s even easier to use than a broadband card. You don’t have to worry about if you should get an ExpressCard, PC Card or USB card. So long as you’ve got WiFi, you’re good to go regardless or PC, Mac or Linux. It bypasses the problems of operating systems and connections.

If it’s your first time connecting to the MiFi 2200, you’ll need to point your browser to http://192.168.1.1 and enter the password “admin”. A setup wizard will then guide you through the process of doing common tasks such as changing the name of the wireless network, the default password, security settings (very important so any random person doesn’t use up your 5 GB).

Naturally, the security is the same level of security offered by other Wi-Fi networks available today. Whether or not you use the WEP (not recommended) or WPA-PSK (recommended) wireless security is up to you. With the right settings, you won’t have much to fear.

Just remember, while it’s impossible to safeguard against every possible threat, no security is like leaving the front door to your house unlocked. Try it if you want to get robbed.

The Official Tech Specs

The Novatel MiFi 2200 enhances the Mobile Broadband Service experience by also providing a wireless hub for up to five WiFi-enabled devices at one time. The Novatel MiFi 2200 is an intelligent mobile hotspot that fits in the palm of your hand. This portable, secure, and truly wireless Mobile Broadband access device is the first of its kind to be added to Sprint. And with its compact and lightweight form factor and rechargeable battery, provides the ultimate in on-the-go flexibility.

MiFi™ 2200 Mobile Hotspot (Sprint)

  • Mobile Broadband
  • WiFi Access for up to 5 Devices Simultaneously
  • Connector–less Mobile hotspot
  • No software installation required
  • Provides Mobile Broadband Rev A Internet access wirelessly
  • 2-way Text Messaging Capable
  • USB Port Compatibility

Included Accessories

  • MiFi Connect Card
  • Lithium-Ion Battery
  • AC Charger
  • Protective Pouch
  • Get Started Guide
  • Terms and Conditions of Services

Are There Any Drawbacks?

There are a couple drawbacks to the Sprint MiFi 2200.

The first and most notable is having a 5 GB cap to share amongst a potential five devices. Just on this site alone, e-mails pour in users going over the 5 GB cap. If they are pulling more than the cap with just one laptop, overage charges could potentially get ridiculous with multiple devices. I highly recommend taking the free “Mobile Broadband Buyer’s Guide” for ‘Lesson 3: The Infamous 5GB Cap’

Also, it doesn’t ship with a USB cable. It’s almost as though they don’t want to have your MiFi to your laptop. While this is understandable and being that the MiFi is a wireless device, what happens when the battery life runs out but you still need to be connected to the Internet? This very simple problem is a big deal for anyone who runs their mobile broadband connection continuously. I know I do.

Fortunately, it works with any micro USB cable and can be tethered once you have the cable. It’s important to note, that the WiFi functionality switches off once you plug it into your laptop for tethering. That’s no good are running low on battery power and had multiple devices connected. While you could plug into the wall, sockets (in a car or crowded airport) may not always be available. In a wise move the Verizon MiFi does ship with a USB cable.

How Much Does It Cost & Where Can I Get It?

All in all, Sprint MiFi 2200 is a very solid device. It is the only mobile broadband device that I personally consider upgrading for.  Being a person that appreciates aesthetics as well as functionality, I give the Sprint MiFi 2200 my personal recommendation.

Sprint MiFi (front view)

The MiFi 2200 is free through our partner without using any rebates.

As icing on the cake, the MiFi 2200 is free through our partner without using any rebates. You can even get it for $29.99 if you have to extend your contract (be sure to check with Sprint’s ridiculously rigid contract extension requirements).

Here’s where you can pick up the Sprint MiFi 2200 for free while feeding me, the starving webmaster at the same time.

But I’m still not sure about mobile broadband…

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